I have a terrible time resisting fish.
Sure, I don’t try very hard, but even if I did, I don’t think I’d be successful. For the past few years the Truckee River intrigued me, and it was silly for me to believe that after visiting it once I would have the restraint to leave it at that.
It’s not your typical river. Not that any river is typical, they all have intricacies and superlatives to combat complaints, but what drove me back to the Truckee Saturday wasn’t its access or big fish. Great access usually means close proximity to vehicles and a reminder of the time in history in which you live, but few if any trout are off limits.
As for fish, I only caught one the last time I went and it wasn’t all that big. What brought me back was the potential and the prospect of exploration. My use of the word, of course, is a slap in the face of those who trekked over the Sierra Nevada during westward expansion. You pass Emigrant Gap and Donner Lake on the way to the Truckee, so yeah, I wasn’t really exploring anything, but it was new to me.
Anyway, I decided to investigate the Little Truckee which involves a simple left turn and short drive. Once I passed Boca Reservoir I was transported to my pre-teen years. My family took summer trips to Colorado to visit grandparents and usually once a year we’d leave the plains for a day-trip to Estes Park in the Rocky Mountains. I remember weaving up through a rock canyon with big scattered rocks breaking up the river. Trees were scattered but hearty and you assumed at any moment wildlife would pop out.
It wasn’t exactly the same, but it was close enough for me to remember the drive and unearth a craving for a carmel apple with walnuts like I got so many years ago.
I was instantly connected to the Little Truckee.
When the valley relents it gives way to an open meadow where the river gently sweeps back and forth in a series of innocuous riffles. It cuts into the bank when it turns, but not with the malice of an ill-tempered river. In a few spots you could sit on the sturdy grassy edge and dangle your feet into the current, but if you want to catch the fish that are holding there waiting for a terrestrial to fall in, or the river to bring it food, you don’t.
I started in the faster canyon water and sooner than I could believe, felt the weight of a stout brown trout. I talked myself through the fight. After all, the whole reason I was on the Truckee outside of my previously mentioned motivations, was thanks to the prospect of brown trout. I am far from tired of rainbows, and to be picky is to be a bit of a jerk, but I really wanted a brown. I didn’t expect one. I wanted one. Big difference.
The best way to jinx a fishing trip is to target a specific length, width or species, so when the brown left the water and I saw the burned yellow of its flanks, I was almost hysterical. I swooped up the trout and started laughing after a full-on my-team-just-hit-a-three-with-15-seconds-left shout complete with fist pump.
I hope I never lose the surprise that comes with catching fish. In some regards, a fishing trip is like ordering a burger. You order a burger but get more than just meat. A burger is an experience with a toasted bun and fixings you didn’t have to ask for, but get anyway. That’s why you keep ordering them. You think, yeah, I’ve had burgers before, but I haven’t had one today and I’m hungry.
I know what to expect next time I go to the Truckee, but I won’t lose my appetite for it anytime soon.
To contact Jeff Lund, email firstname.lastname@example.org.